HVIA sees huge flaw in proposed vehicle standards reform

Exposure draft shortfall will catch out body modifications, industry group says

HVIA sees huge flaw in proposed vehicle standards reform
Greg Forbes says the changes are unworkable


The value of industry consultation looks to have been vindicated again, with Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA) pointing to a significant issue in the proposed Road Vehicle Standards Act reform.

What the HVIA describes as a "major flaw" appears in the draft amendments to the Act and will need to be corrected before the legislation is presented to Parliament.

Had the issue not been caught in the industry consultation process, the flaw would create gaps for body builders between Australian Design Rules (ADRs) and the Vehicle Standards Bulletin 6 (VSB6), the National Code of Practice for Heavy Vehicle Modifications, it says.

VSB6 outlines minimum design, construction, installation and performance requirements for modifications to heavy motor vehicles and trailers.

"The amendments changed the definition of the time of supply to market, and the legislation requires all changes to a vehicle prior to supply to market to be done through the second stage manufacturing (SSM) process or through model reports," HVIA's policy and government relations manager Greg Forbes says in a statement to members.

"This would essentially force body builders and other companies using VSB6 to modify vehicles into the SSM process, or have to submit a model report for every body/truck combination.

"The changes are clearly unworkable and we will ask for this to be changed as part of HVIA’s response to the draft legislation."

While the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) manages VSB6, it has no jurisdiction over modifications done under second stage manufacturing.

"Legally, the enforcement of VSB6 requirements when the vehicle has an SSM plate after first registration is very difficult," Forbes says.

HVIA has previously highlighted the incongruence of the second stage manufacturing process with VSB6.

This was more than two years ago when trucks that had been imported and certified through the Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme (RAWS) scheme did not meet key Workshop  requirements for body fit and lifting systems.  

More recently, there have been VSB6 issues with bullbars.

More detail will be provided on the proposed Road Vehicle Standards Act amendments at the forthcoming HVIA National Industry Forums.

According the NHVR, VSB6 is designed for national use by heavy vehicle regulators as well as businesses and individuals involved in the modification of heavy vehicles.

 It is intended to provide a single national technical standard to ensure that modified heavy vehicles are safe and that they comply with relevant ADRs and legislative and regulatory requirements.

Federal urban infrastructure minister Paul Fletcher announced the draft amendments release saying the reforms were needed to update 30-year-old legislation.

"The new legislation, to come into effect from 2019, will provide a modern, strong regulatory platform for vehicle standards that will better protect the community, provide more choice for specialist and enthusiast vehicles and be responsive to emerging technologies," Fletcher says.

"These reforms will save businesses more than $68 million a year in regulatory compliance costs—a significant saving on annual regulatory costs under the current framework which stand at around $250 million per year.

"It will provide increased consumer choice through expanding and improving the pathways for importing specialist and enthusiast vehicles—including performance, low emissions, and mobility access vehicles.

"The Bills will also give the responsible Minister strong powers to mandate the recall of vehicles if serious safety issues arise. The powers will apply to all road vehicles supplied in Australia, whether for private or commercial use, providing the Commonwealth Government with the necessary powers to uphold our national safety standards.

"This legislative package is the most important set of changes to the Australian Government's regulation of motor vehicles in almost three decades which is why we have taken the time to consult on the details with interested stakeholders, including the automotive sector and consumers, prior to the Bills being introduced.

"The Turnbull Government released exposure drafts of the legislation in December and stakeholders have been asked to provide feedback by mid-February. The House of Representatives will proceed to a second reading debate on the legislation only after the consultation period has closed."es

The Road Vehicle Standards package of Bills and information on the consultation process can be found here.


You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook